TsNIIMash Developed Experiment to Search for Resources on the Moon

A data visualization showing the area near the lunar South Pole on a ridge not far from Shackleton – the large crater on the right – selected as the landing site for Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, which will deliver technology demonstrations to the Moon’s surface under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The conditions at the site offer the best chance of success for three technology demonstrations onboard. (Credits: NASA)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Federal Space Program of Russia for 2016–2025 provides for the launch in 2024 of the automatic interplanetary station Luna-26, designed for remote studies of the surface of the Earth’s natural satellite from a circumlunar polar orbit. Among the tasks of the station are mapping the mineralogical composition and mapping the distribution of water ice on the Moon.

(more…)

Break the Ice: Masten Designs Rocket Mining System to Extract Lunar Water

Mining system on the moon. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten PR) — At Masten, we’re working to accelerate the realization of space ecosystems on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Our goal is to unlock the value in space to ultimately benefit humans on Earth. So how do we achieve that? First, we’ll enable regular, sustainable access to the lunar surface. Then, we’ll make it possible to extract and utilize extraterrestrial resources, such as water, methane, and rare-Earth metals. These resources can be used not only for fuel and power, but they also open the door to new commercial applications and technology innovations that can help preserve our resources on Earth.

(more…)

An Israeli Company Intends to Produce Oxygen from Lunar Soil

Helios’ solution, supported by the Israel Space Agency, could reduce the number of launches from Earth and allow for a long-term human presence in deep space. (Credit: Helios)

TZUR YIGAL, Israel (Israel Space Agency PR) — Meet the startup that wants to make oxygen from Moon: Helios, supported by the Israel Space Agency and the Ministry of Science and Technology, plans to launch the first experiment to the International Space Station next year. Helios is developing technology that will allow oxygen to be produced directly from lunar soil. If it succeeds, the small startup from Israel will pave the way for human settlement on the moon and Mars.

(more…)

Mining the Moon and Mars Using Ablative Arc Technology

Illustration of Ablative Arc Mining Process (Credits: Amelia Greig)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

Ablative Arc Mining for In-Situ Resource Utilization
Amelia Greig
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas

As space exploration expands to include human expeditions to the surfaces of other solar system bodies, sustainable in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) infrastructures to harvest local resources for water, building materials, and propellants must be developed.

Water is the most critical component in the near-term and is therefore the focus of many studies. However, being able to mine other resources with the same system will become critical in the future. A good mining system should therefore encompass extraction and collection of water in parallel with as many other local materials as possible.

(more…)

NIAC Award: Building a Levitating Railroad on the Moon

Artist’s depiction of the FLOAT lunar railway system to provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon. (Credits: Ethan Schaler)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

FLOAT: Flexible Levitation on a Track
Ethan Schaler
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

We want to build the first lunar railway system, which will provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon. A durable, long-life robotic transport system will be critical to the daily operations of a sustainable lunar base in the 2030’s, as envisioned in NASA’s Moon to Mars plan and mission concepts like the Robotic Lunar Surface Operations 2 (RLSO2), to:

(more…)

UNSW Partners with ispace to Accelerate a Lunar Economy

HAKUTO-R lander. (Credit: ispace)

SYDNEY, Australia (UNSW Sydney PR) — UNSW Sydney has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, to jointly pursue research and development in space resources and infrastructure.

The MoU will enable UNSW and ispace to work together on areas of common interest, including technology development and space missions. UNSW students and staff could also participate in exchange programs.

(more…)

Dig In: NASA Challenge Seeks Innovations to Excavate Moon Resources

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — From garage inventors to university students and entrepreneurs, NASA is looking for ideas on how to excavate the Moon’s icy regolith, or dirt, and deliver it to a hypothetical processing plant at the lunar South Pole. The NASA Break the Ice Lunar Challenge, now open for registration, is designed to develop new technologies that could support a sustained human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade.

(more…)

NASA Tipping Point Selections Include Cryogenic Fluid, Lunar Surface and Landing Tech

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following selections, organized by topic area, are based on NASA’s fifth competitive Tipping Point  solicitation and have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm-fixed price contracts lasting for up to five years.

(more…)

NASA Announces Partners to Advance ‘Tipping Point’ Technologies for the Moon, Mars

NASA and industry have developed and tested numerous technologies to enable long-term cryogenic fluid management, which is essential for establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon and helping crewed missions to Mars. For example, this 13-foot diameter cryogenic storage test tank evaluated technologies to reduce the evaporation or “boil off” propellant losses. Implementation of similar technologies in operational missions requires further maturation through in-space demonstrations. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies, including several small businesses, as partners to develop a range of technologies that will help forge a path to sustainable Artemis  operations on the Moon by the end of the decade.

U.S. industry submitted the proposals to NASA’s fifth competitive  Tipping Point solicitation, and the selections have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm fixed-price contracts lasting for up to five years.

(more…)

7 Nations Join U.S. in Signing the Artemis Accords

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”

(more…)

NIAC Award: Lunar Polar Propellant Mining Outpost

Graphic depiction of the Lunar Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (LPMO) concept. (Credits: Joel Sercel)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Phase II Award
Amount: $500,000

Lunar Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (LPMO): A Breakthrough for Lunar Exploration & Industry

Joel Sercel
Trans Astronautica Corporation

The Lunar Polar Mining Outpost (LPMO) (see quad chart graphic) is a breakthrough mission architecture that promises to greatly reduce the cost of human exploration and industrialization of the Moon.

(more…)

NIAC Award: Thermal Mining of Ices on Cold Solar System Bodies

Thermal mining of ices on cold solar system bodies (Credit: George Sowers)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phae I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

Thermal Mining of Ices on Cold Solar System Bodies
George Sowers
Colorado School of Mines

Innovation

  • Applying heat directly to frozen volatile bearing materials allows extraction of the volatile without the cost, mass and complexity of excavation.
  • Heat is applied directly to the surface in the form of redirected sunlight or subsurface via conducting rods or heaters emplaced in boreholes.
  • Vapor is captured within a dome-like tent and refrozen in cold traps for processing.

Technical Approach

  • Colorado School of Mines brings its world renowned expertise in terrestrial resource extraction to space.
  • We will explore locations throughout the solar system where Thermal Mining might be applicable.
  • We will develop a detailed mission scenario for the use of Thermal Mining for lunar water extraction.
  • We will test the effectiveness of various Thermal Mining techniques in our cryogenic vacuum chamber.

Potential & Benefits

  • Estimates for extracting water from the permanently shadowed regions of the Moon show Thermal Mining can produce industrial quantities of water (for propellant) for 60% less mass and energy than excavation.
  • Volatiles have many uses for space exploration and space commerce.
  • Propellant from lunar polar ice will lower all transportation costs beyond low Earth orbit by factors from three to seventy.

2019 Phase 1 and Phase II Selections
2011-2019 Consolidated List











NIAC Award — Lunar-Polar Propellant Mining Outpost

Lunar-Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (Credit: Joel Sercel)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

Lunar-Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (LPMO): Affordable Exploration and Industrialization
Joel Sercel
TransAstra Corporation

The Lunar Polar Gas-Dynamic Mining Outpost (LGMO) (see quad chart graphic) is a breakthrough mission architecture that promises to greatly reduce the cost of human exploration and industrialization of the Moon. LGMO is based on two new innovations that together solve the problem of affordable lunar polar ice mining for propellant production.

(more…)











Private Lunar Exploration Company ispace Collaborates With JAXA on Lunar Resource Development Initiative

TOKYO (ispace PR) — ispace, inc, a private lunar robotic exploration company, announced today that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to jointly create a roadmap for lunar resource development. Under this agreement, both parties will utilize their knowledge and network to develop plans and frameworks for creating an industry around lunar resource mining, delivery and utilization.

(more…)